Doug Carl has witnessed Grassroots evolve from a small, volunteer-run hotline to the complex organization it is today. He has seen firsthand Grassroots’ response to the different crises in the community and has watched as the organization expanded services throughout the years while continuing to provide a broad range of resources and expertise to its clients each day.
“The mission hasn’t changed that much, but the crises have changed,” Doug says.
He recalls the shelter being “a mattress in the backroom” in the 70s because homelessness was not the primary focus, the community was smaller, and the need was not as great. He remembers the early hotline primarily helping young people experimenting with the drugs of the time and suffering the effects of mental health issues.
Today, Doug notes, Grassroots staff is tackling the effects of the newest drug epidemic, opioids, working daily to prevent suicide, as well as helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness secure permanent housing and get back on their feet again.
“Whether you work or volunteer there, it’s something more than just a job. You are part of a community that helps people get better lives, helps people help themselves,” Doug explains.
After working with Grassroots first as a volunteer in the late 1970s, then returning years later as a kitchen manager and, most recently, as the Emergency Outreach Coordinator, Doug has retired from the organization. Even so, he sees himself staying involved in some way in the future, explaining, “you never really leave.”